If we are going to be most effective in reaching people for Christ, I believe our strategy should be to show people that we really care. Evangelism and missions must be relational in nature. I can’t find an incident in Holy Scripture in which Jesus walks up to someone and says: “I am the Messiah” and then He shows care for them. No, our Lord offered His care for them first, and then He revealed Himself to them. With this thought in mind, consider the following story which I wish to use to highlight the various strategies being used to witness the “Good News” of our Lord, using its simple plot involving a passenger on a luxury liner who suddenly falls overboard.
The passenger who has fallen overboard cannot swim. In desperation, he begins calling for help. Now it just so happens that several “would-be rescuers” on deck witness the incident. The first person after seeing the man fall overboard immediately reached into his briefcase and pulled out a book on how to swim. He now tossed it to him and he yelled: “Now brother, you read that and just follow the instructions and you will be all right.”
The man next to him had another approach. He immediately jumped into the water and began swimming all around the drowning man saying: “Now just watch me swim. Do as I do and you will be all right.” The person next to him looked upon the drowning man’s plight with deep concern. He yelled out: “Now, just hold on friend. Help is on the way. We are going to establish a committee and discuss your problem. And then, if we have come up with the proper financing, we will resolve your dilemma.”
The next man on deck yelled out to the drowning man: “Friend, this situation is not nearly as bad as you think. Think dry!” By this time the drowning man was going down for the third time and desperately began waving his arm. Seeing that, the next man on board yelled out: “Yes brother, I see that hand, is there another? Is there another?” And finally, the last man on deck immediately plunged into the water, at the risk of his own life, and pulled the victim to safety.
This coming Wednesday, our great nation will celebrate its independence as a new nation on July 4, 1776. This occasion affords us a chance to thank God for the freedoms we possess as citizens of the United States of America. As stewards of God’s blessings and our personal freedom, let us recommit our allegiance to our country and its opportunity for us to choose to live life as God has directed us. Rather than squander these blessings on the failed approaches noted in the story above, let us imitate the life-saving rescuer: Let us “plunge ourselves into the water, even if it means sacrifice, inconvenience, or risk to our own life, and pull ourselves and others entrusted to us to God’s Heavenly Kingdom, here and now, and to the ages of ages to come.”
As encouragement, St. Paul shared to the first Christians in Thessaloniki, Greece some 2,000 years ago: “2We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that He has chosen you, 5because our message of the Gospel [Good News] came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.” (1 Thess. 1:2-5)